The fragile coalition of US President Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande, all waging a futile second cold war on Russia has shattered.
Led by Donald trump, but fought by Angela Merkel, the world is warming up to Russia.
Obama is gone, Hollande is gone (dropped out), and Merkel is left dangling in a wind strongly blowing against her.
Please consider European Consensus on Tackling Putin Under Strain.
François Fillon, the centre-right favourite to be France’s next president, shook Europe’s fragile consensus over Russia as he attacked the bloc’s “emotional” approach to President Vladimir Putin.
On the margins of an EU summit aiming to show Europe’s resolve in the face of Mr Putin’s increasing aggression, Mr Fillon captured the growing lack of unity in the West’s stance even as Russian-backed Syrian forces over-ran the stricken city of Aleppo.
Echoing the rhetoric of Donald Trump, the US president-elect, Mr Fillon said: “I have, simply, a lot of respect for Russia.” Mr Fillon was speaking moments after meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, a strong advocate of the EU’s sanctions-led policy against Moscow.
“I have always said that whoever is the Russian leader — be his name Vladimir, Boris or Igor — is the leader of the largest country on the earth’s surface,” Mr Fillon added. “Europe must have a long-term strategy with Russia and not simply act on emotion.”
Several countries — including Italy, Hungary, Slovakia and Greece — have long complained of sanctions fatigue and called for a new approach towards Russia. Their position would be strengthened if Mr Fillon — who won a primary contest last month to become the centre-right candidate for France’s presidential elections — were to replace François Hollande in 2017. Mr Hollande arrived at the summit dismissing calls for more dialogue with the Kremlin.
Ms Merkel, who worked hard to win over Mr Hollande to her Russia policy, could face even greater disputes with Mr Fillon.
Merkel Coalition Splinters
The next French election is likely to come down between a choice between Fillon and Marine Le Pen. In addition to being anti-Euro, Le Pen is also warm to Russia.
Either way, the EU nannycrats will lose something.
And the next government in the Netherlands is also increasingly likely to poke a finger in Merkel’s eyes.
Even if Merkel survives the next German election, she will be seriously damaged goods, unable to control a Europe splintering out of her control.
Russia warming is a good thing. Sanctions make no sense. Neither does the euro itself, as implemented.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock